A consortium of 13 Japanese oil and gas companies are joining forces in an effort to commercialize technologies enabling hydrogen vehicles to be conveniently refueled by 2015. Coincidentally (or not), that date goes hand-in-hand with Toyota's target for selling hydrogen vehicles on the retail level.
According to the Nikkei in Japan (via Trading Markets), unnamed automakers are considering joining the group, which expects to start field testing dozens of hydrogen refueling stations all across Japan in short order. It's hoped that the oil companies can generate the hydrogen and the gas companies can use their existing pipelines and stations to transport the hydrogen at a cost comparable to gasoline.
Considering that the great promise of hydrogen is its lack of tailpipe emissions, we can only hope the oil and gas companies find a way to generate the hydrogen in an environmentally friendly manner, even if it's not necessarily the most profitable solution. Think that's likely?